Fear-shaming seems to be a thing these days. As if showing respect for a novel coronavirus and figuring out how to minimize its risks are somehow the actions of cowards (and/or the faithless) versus a fact-seeking mission to determine what we can and cannot control about this threat that has seemingly thrown our world off its axis.

For years, my family has called me Safety Mom, in part because I had writing jobs about safety and baby products. But I guess you could probably argue that I was able to get hired for those jobs because I’ve always been one to think about safety concerns. Do I live my life in fear? No. Yet I do live my life by researching safety risks and analyzing various protections and preparations. When it comes to safety, there are many factors not under our control—my approach is to put my efforts toward simple ways to reduce risks. In the end, that’s all anyone can do. After all, we’re not in charge!

For background, I admit that I come from a somewhat overprotected childhood.

First of all, my dad was raised an only child, but, really, he was the child who followed the death of his parents’ only other child. My grandparents were so afraid of losing him that he was raised as a fragile piece of china—even though he grew up on a Depression-era farm. His nickname in school became “Mittens”—because he wasn’t allowed to get dirty or roughhouse. He grew up to earn a professional degree and work as a pharmacist, only using his hands to count pills and type labels. My father seemed a stranger to his own body—living in a cerebral world where physical risks were minimized. For him, it was his lifestyle focused on comforts that threatened his physical health more than outside risks or movements.

And, for me—I was the baby who did not die when my body raged with infection at four months of age. But the experience left me underweight and scrambling to catch up. My dad’s mom would grab my hands and say things like, “She has hands like a bird. Do you think she will make it?” And whenever I fell down in her presence, she would gasp in fear for me—a reaction that never went away throughout all the normal bumps and bruises of my childhood. Not until I could get my tonsils out, a procedure delayed by my lack of weight gain, could I finally grow into a sturdy child—one who tried to pump hard enough to wrap the swing around the bar, who rode my bike up gravel country roads, climbed trees, screwed up her courage to plunge off the high board, and who, in my teens, jumped at a chance to learn to ski.

Compared to my husband (he of a very physical childhood with his two brothers and more than a few broken bones between them, and a current serious mountain-biking addiction) and my own kids, who I strove not to inject with the legacy of fear my family had attempted to swaddle me in, I am a delicate little flower.

However, I do not often cower in fear. I prepare myself by reading the latest studies (from a layman’s perspective), while watching for bias or updated information. My educational background is in reading and writing, and my current editing work falls in the area of science education—an area where I was NOT naturally drawn to at a young age. No doubt my growth into Safety Mom drove me toward trying to figure out how different factors affect health. In general, if my research tells me something I don’t want to hear, I have to decide how badly I want to avoid the risks.

Unfortunately, what I read at this point in our early days of understanding the current viral threat is that how I respond to safety precautions matters to the health of many beyond my own circle. I don’t really spend a lot of time worrying about myself—or even about those whom I love. Instead, I spend time making certain that—as much as possible—I follow the current recommended safety precautions.

What looks like fear to many is actually love. I am doing unto others what I want them to do for me (see Matthew 7:12). I do this because of what Jesus said—not because I don’t have faith. What if keeping our lamps trimmed and burning (see Matthew 25:1-13) is actually about being prepared to care for others in this interim of waiting for better solutions to this illness? Could the inconvenience of loving our neighbors by maintaining distances and wearing facial coverings actually demonstrate that we are willing to accept God’s timing and ways—in all things, including how and when the bridegroom will arrive?

Fear not, but prepare wisely. Because we do not know the hour or time, one way to keep watch is by showing your love.

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert
Father/Daughter Father’s Day bike ride 2020.

Today on Father’s Day, I am used to being without my father. Still, how is it 19 years have passed since I spent a Father’s Day with my dad? Facebook is full of tributes to men like my father who are no longer around—some long gone and some whose recent losses leave sharp, new aches. But I am glad that so many of the people I know still have dads who are alive, including my husband and his brothers. I am grateful that Duane is still here and living in his own home—and I love seeing pictures of living fathers I knew in my youth and living fathers who I don’t know but who matter to people I know.

And, most importantly to me, I rejoice that my kids’ father, Sherman, is out celebrating at this time by riding his bike with our daughter. That he is doing so was not a given, because, despite his age and fitness level, he had a heart attack 2 ½ years ago. Thankfully, due to the addition of a stent as well as medication and diet changes, Sherman continues to ride on this earth, exercising as he always did—but with his heart pumping more effectively.

This man of my heart rides his bike—mostly by climbing up steep hills on his mountain bike—from three to five times a week. He is dedicated to staying strong. And, because he cares that others continue to have the opportunity to move as they are able, he wears a face covering.

I’m going to guess that many people these days are worried about their dads, grandpas, husbands, and other loved ones. But it appears that some other people don’t seem to worry about dads, grandpas, husbands, and loved ones who fall outside their circles.

To the man who took time to mock my husband and me for wearing masks as we walked our dogs outside, what about protecting my 91-year-old father-in-law, let alone my husband who still has heart disease—despite his activity level—or my 20-something son, who has asthma? You might call wearing a face covering the act of a sheep, but we call it wearing our hearts on our faces.

Because, seriously, how can people go around saying that all lives matter when they find so much offense in the suggestion of wearing a mask to protect others? If you really believe all lives matter, then show it by following general guidelines to protect all in these days of COVID-19. Understand that we all have special people who matter to us—and that what we’re saying by wearing face masks isn’t that we’re weak (although some of us might be, and wouldn’t protecting us still be worthy of showing that all lives matter?), but that we know that everyone has people in their lives that matter to them and people who they want to help stay well.

On this Father’s Day, let’s honor the wellness of all our special men—whether they are elderly, have medical conditions, or appear to be fit enough to battle whatever may come their way.

I don’t get to have a father to worry over anymore, but that doesn’t mean I don’t worry for the men I know in my life—or the men I don’t know—who matter to others. And, yes, that means men who society has traditionally treated as if they don’t matter. And—sigh—it also means the kind of men who would refuse to attempt to protect others or who, even worse, go out of their way to physically harm or mock those who look, think, or act differently than they do.

I have to admit, though, that I’m having a harder time these days attempting to care about people who aren’t afraid to shout that they won’t try to care for all. All means all. Since I can only truly work on my heart, it’s to my own heart where I have to return. So, I’ll repeat it for myself—and anyone else who needs to hear it.

Love one another. Our Father in Heaven gave His Son that message to give to us. Are we listening?

Love all the fathers. And everyone else. Keep wearing your hearts on your faces.

P.S. Miss you, Dad! Glad you are already safe.

Giraffe imposed on text about Newton's 2nd Law (momentum). Vintage TV with interference on screen instead of head.
Sticking my neck out. (Sketch by Christiana Lambert, 2015. For more, see: http://reviva-arts.com/)

The truer I am to myself these days, the more I realize how far I’ve strayed from a good majority of the people I know. And, why should I—the junior high social outcast—be so surprised over 40 years later?

There are so many factors that have contributed to my arrival at this sense of isolation—and some of those started with who I was born as. I didn’t agree with all I was raised to believe or that my peers desired.


But . . . it seems to me that maybe one of the biggest steps I took toward not fitting in was turning off the TV. My cultural connections began to diminish when I wasn’t watching shows that many people brought into conversations. By now, I can look back and see how off-the-grid it was not to get cable—and to never watch reality TV (except for in the rare situation where I was around some who was watching it). I stopped watching the local news after Columbine (1999) and I never watched cable news in any format (again, unless when I briefly saw it away from my home). I’ve also chosen never to listen to talk (yell?) radio.


I don’t live in a vacuum, though. It’s just that I like to read my news. That means I get to choose how much of a story to hear—or whether I think whoever wrote the piece is a trustworthy “narrator.” In my day job, I read for a living and spend time assessing the validity of statements and sources.

While I’ve always read news, I didn’t used to get a sense that I personally needed to keep an eye on my country’s actions. I believed in the checks and balances built into the operating of this country (yes, I realize there’s quite a bit of privilege and naivety built into that belief). My philosophy was that you and I might disagree on some major issues, but there was no need for us to get into those kinds of discussions as long as we had other connections in common.

Therefore, when I joined the social media world, I took great pride in keeping my presence neutral. Even my blog was a “slice of life” forum, where I chose to avoid challenging people. I had such a wide variety of Facebook friends that FB couldn’t even figure out what kinds of political ads to give me for the 2012 presidential elections.

By the 2016 election year, I had moved to hiding a lot of content and sources, and I started hiding more people. Facebook finally could “know” me. I was done acting like Switzerland (a country that really gained a lot of benefits from all sides by remaining neutral, didn’t it?).

My media-related sense of isolation came to a head during that awful year when I realized how different what I valued seemed to be from that of those who would support such a cruel and bombastic reality personality as the man who became our president. All those years ago–when I intentionally chose not to watch TV shows where so much of the entertainment value seemed to come from cheering for participants to be voted off an island–didn’t prepare me for how different I was from so many of my peers. While I wasn’t watching, so many were. I never envisioned how our society would change to one where many people would not only accept the backstabbing inherent in getting rid of all competitors, but would also adulate a leader who excelled in a kind of scripted brutal power built on bullying and cheap showmanship while scorning the pursuit of true knowledge and accomplishments.

These days, it’s beyond amazing to me to realize which FB friends have become my tribe. And which FB friends support ideas and beliefs that I cannot.

Now, here we are in 2020, a year all to its own in acclaim. The rhetoric—drummed up to a fever pitch by the bully-in-chief and his misuse of language long before COVID-19 arrived on our shores—continues to inflame how we discuss differences. If our emotions have the ability to manifest in our physical bodies, then for me, the rashes on my ears are saying, “Enough!” Other than a brief healing response to medication prescribed remotely by my doctor, the skin on my ears is burning up. I cannot tolerate all the awful things I hear—both by those in leadership—and by people I formerly respected who support what is being said (and done) in our country’s name.

There are topics I don’t debate—and I am certain for many of you there are other topics you don’t debate. Both sides of an argument are not always equal. We don’t have to pretend to be friends anymore if doing so means constantly accepting words that feel like accelerants on our core beliefs. We come together on social media by choice—ostensibly for connection and entertainment. I listen to opinions that are different from mine but when I consistently feel morally outraged by a position, maybe I’m not being narrow-minded—maybe I am responding in a manner that is absolutely consistent with who I am.

And who I am is pretty much that person who often questioned what I was told. Being in this position is no more comfortable than it was when I was a kid—but I can’t hide it anymore. In 2020, it’s obvious that it’s no longer just about me. I don’t know what it’s going to take to stop our country from burning up, but I have an obligation to speak up.

But I’m not obligated to listen to everything others say in the name of both sides. Choosing isolation doesn’t mean I don’t hear things that I don’t agree with—it just means I get to put boundaries on how much I let in. The only way I can continue to fight for what I believe is right is for me is to stop listening to so many of you who have shown that what you value is pretty much the exact opposite of what I value.

raised fistMy kids attended a small “school of choice” for middle school. One of the main focuses of their middle school was teaching the kids leadership, including learning the difference between acting in a proactive versus reactive manner. Their school operated without services (which could be provided though the other more traditional schools in the district, if necessary). They got a percentage of a principal, if you will, meaning the teachers pretty much ran the school. Like any institution, the school was subject to the personalities of those in charge and to how those people applied the policies.

The school’s kids had access to large practice fields for their recess time—or whatever you call recess for middle schoolers. The teachers often stood at the top of the hill while the kids milled around below them.

One day, during spring of 8th grade for my son, he was being harassed by one particular kid. There were two groups made up of girls and boys around those two boys. The kid pushed down my son. My son got up. The kid pushed him down again. He got up again. After the third time the kid pushed him down, my son got up and swacked the guy with his baseball hat. Ah ha—the teachers spied that move and called out both boys.

Despite all the eye witness accounts, each boy received an equal suspension from school. The “percentage” principal was called over to talk with both boys. When he met with my son, this man who barely knew him said, “Your hair is greasy and you smell bad. Don’t you ever wash?” I have no idea what he said to the other boy—the one, who by every student’s account, even those from the other group, was the aggressor.

My husband and I were called in to talk with the teachers. And we asked them, “So if our son is walking down the hall and someone reaches out and hits him—and he responds in any physical way—he will be suspended? And they said, “Yes. We have zero tolerance for violence.” Well, I guess that’s zero tolerance for the violence they personally see. I mean, they seemed to imply they just couldn’t believe our son responded in a reactive manner to how he was being treated. And no praise for the times he resisted the urge to respond.

As if most 13-year-old boys have the maturity to walk away, especially if they tried to do so and it didn’t make a difference.

So, the teachers didn’t appear to have the responsibility to de-escalate a situation, weigh any circumstances, or recognize that they pretty much had tolerated violence—until our son responded to violence committed against him. As we heard it, they couldn’t help it—their hands were tied. A rule is a rule. Until it’s applied differently for different people.

And, yes, we had previously experienced this sort of uneven treatment when our daughter was pushed down and injured in grade school. One sore arm and $200 x-ray for her . . . led to the school talking with the boy and his parents. That was it.

So much for zero tolerance.

For my kids, those were a few of the memorable times in their lives when the people in charge did not treat them justly. Turns out that life is not a game. However, even as really little kids, all of us know enough to feel outraged when people use different rules in order to win. Cries of “that’s not fair” are common from our youngest days.

Imagine a society where day in and day out, some people are reminded just how much the rules work better for people who aren’t like them—and that many people are just fine with that—if they’re the people getting the better part of that deal.

As long as we as a society accept the validity of treating certain people one way while treating others another, we shouldn’t be surprised when rage builds, especially when systemic inequities exist in the application of justice and opportunity.

But for those of us willing to admit that applying rules unfairly is not okay—now what? If we want to avoid being at the end of reactive responses to aggression and suppression, first we have to see and point out such oppression. And then we need to be proactive, both in leading and in choosing leaders who will unshackle this nation from its lopsided history of establishing justice for only some.

waters rolling down like justice

You may have a hard time understanding being so angry that you destroy other people’s property—and maybe even the businesses in your own neighborhood. My husband’s family owns a commercial property and we certainly don’t have the means to just replace that property and the business within it. Like many others during this time of COVID-19, we know that there is no proof that the business will make it through these uncertain days. We don’t deserve to be harmed in additional ways because someone else did something wrong.

Man, do we take umbrage when we think of being falsely thrown into any accusation of the bad behaviors of others—whether we’re business owners, working in law enforcement, or just people on the street. We shouldn’t have to suffer for the sins of others.

But as that is true for us, it is too late for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery.

Over 28 years ago, large and pregnant, I fretted about bringing my son and daughter into that particular time. It seemed as if all of Los Angeles were burning after four officers were acquitted of committing brutality on Rodney King. As I recently explained to my soon-to-be 28-year-old daughter, the Rodney King case was such a flashpoint because the fairly new accessibility of personal video recording devices had allowed that brutality to be captured and released into the world’s collective consciousness.

Was such injustice new? No. Were such riots new? No. What was new was that those of us far from those circumstances and happenings now had a better chance of understanding that justice was often being served unevenly.

And yet, here we are 28 years later, video after video after video released to the world, and many moms who were pregnant when I was have had to bury their children.

There is always the chatter. What were they doing to cause this? Why weren’t they respectful to the officers? Look at the crimes they have committed before. If they’re innocent, why did they resist or run? And then when other people get angry at their deaths, it’s statements such as this behavior delegitimizes their cause. There is no excuse for property destruction—or it’s only an excuse to get free stuff. And then let’s get super angry that football players kneel—of all “offensive” actions they could take—because they think that sometimes black people are served up vigilante “justice” instead of the promise inherent in our “Star Spangled Banner.”

Well, first of all, we’re supposed to have a justice system in this country that doesn’t put decisions in the hands of those who are arresting people. We don’t convict people for how they have acted in the past. We are to base our judgment only on the particular crime for which they are charged. For crimes of note, our citizens are due a trial with a judge and a jury of their peers. And—we don’t execute people on the spot for even legitimate misdemeanors or felonies. We require a series of steps before we condemn people to death. Because death is the ultimate penalty—it cannot be undone.

Beyond all the injustice we’ve watched occur in real time again and again, the feeling of impotence in these times is growing for many. It seems as if there is no legal recourse for disagreements. When the GAO points out that proposed tax changes will increase the deficit and harm the earners at the bottom and in the middle, put it through. When the public outcry on changes to SNAP and school food programs is overwhelming, let the FDA do whatever it was going to do anyway. When people armed to their teeth overrun the state houses and put up effigies of leaders, support their right to “liberate” their governments and let them stand without official resistance. Every legitimate channel for effecting change appears to becoming less about “We the People” and more about the people who are in charge now.

I could go on and on providing examples of disheartening policy changes and actions—and I am only listing a few of the grievances that have occurred with this Trump administration in leadership. If I feel threatened when our nation’s leader is retweeting statements that say “the only good Democrat is a dead Democrat” (a statement that hearkens to a common sentiment in taking these lands—“the only good Indian is a dead Indian”), imagine how much more a person of color feels that.

Continued similar dog whistles come from the White House—“when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” “vicious dogs” and “ominous weapons,” calling white extremists“ very fine people.

If we want to be judged on the content of our character, why are we surprised that others want the same thing?

In his poem Harlem, Langston Hughes asked what happened to a dream deferred—and finished the poem with “Or does it explode?

Why shouldn’t people of color be angry?

The question is, why aren’t more of us angry for them?

Until we turn our anger to systemic racism and do something about it, let’s stop clucking about the violence and destruction. Demand that our leaders lead toward making this a nation for all its people–or vote them out. There’s a difference between people who still are working on increasing their awareness and those who actively don’t care that some of God’s children aren’t even offered the crumbs from this nation’s tables.

justicecenterMLKquote2019

(c) 2019 Sherman Lambert

Today is what would have been the 91st birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King was a worker not just for racial justice, but for justice for all. His words and life’s work sought to turn the collective consciousness of our society toward our nation’s inequities. His dream was that the American dream would be available to all of God’s children in their own country—and he paid the ultimate price for his dedication to improving access to so much of what constitutes the tables of this nation. As Christians, we are called not only to invite everyone to our Lord’s table, but also to full participation in the opportunities in this land.

And we might think we’re doing that just because we try not to harm others who do not look like us. But if we don’t want the sins of this nation’s fathers and mothers to be visited upon us, we have to also really hear those who have lived through different experiences—especially when those experiences have come from systems that appear to be applied differently based upon someone’s outward appearance. It’s easy for us to bristle when we hear the word “privilege” directed at us, especially when we are dedicated to working hard and to treating our neighbors as we like to be treated.

But despite our feelings of discomfort, it’s way past time for us to listen—and to open up to understanding that systems that seem sustaining and helpful to us may not always be applied equally to everyone.

There are stories out there of justice denied—individually and in a systemic manner, as you can read or watch in lawyer Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy book that is now also a movie. You can read up on the effects of the New Deal practice that graded neighborhoods based upon desirability for real estate investing, a practice whose long-term effects continue to shape opportunities within communities. According to the Mapping Inequality website: “These grades were a tool for redlining: making it difficult or impossible for people in certain areas to access mortgage financing and thus become homeowners. Redlining directed both public and private capital to native-born white families and away from African American and immigrant families.”

And then there may be stories told to you directly by people you know. In the early 90s, my husband Sherman’s employee—who was African American—cashed his paycheck and drove off down Federal Boulevard. Soon after, he was pulled over by the police who yanked him out of his car and threw him on the side of the road. There he was, a young man in his dress shirt and dress pants, with cash in his pockets, lying face down on that summer night as the commuters drove by. His crime? Apparently he resembled a man who had committed a crime nearby—eventually the police let him go his way. When Sherman and I heard his tale, we were incredulous at the violence of the encounter. After all, we knew the content of this man’s character. He, however, was not surprised—except for the fact that we didn’t seem to know how common such a threat was to him and others who looked like him.

It’s been over 50 years since Martin Luther King was shot down for trying to do something about inequities. I had the luxury of believing that much of what he had fought for had come to pass—because these sorts of challenges didn’t happen to me. That’s privilege. I get to choose whether to turn my outrage into action or not.

What will it take for us as a church to stop feeling umbrage when we hear the word “privilege” and instead take up the mantle of Dr. King’s fight?

This is my prayer—that we will hear those who are attempting to tell us that their experiences in this country have been different than ours and that we will work through our own discomfort and truly fight to break down the barriers that prevent all people from eating at the Lord’s table.

Please join me in speaking –and acting on—the immortal words of Dr. King: “We will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” Because, as he also said and as is engraved on the side of the Justice Center building in downtown Denver, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

 

savethehumans (2)The roses still sweeten the air under our oh-so-blue skies. God knows I’d rather focus on the little things in my life, especially on what’s going right. The fact I get to choose whether to choose outrage or calm speaks of the privilege of the life I lead, even with the challenges I face—including those I don’t share in public (or even in many private) spaces.

In my day job, I read lab manuals. What’s not to love about some clear rational thoughts? Although, these days I am increasingly aware that certain “trigger” words might keep someone from learning the science in the books. Such strange times in which we live.

For whatever reasons, for the past 20 years or so, in my spare time, I have been drawn to reading fictional books that challenge my comfort level—in short, that allow me to appreciate my own nonfictional life. About regimes changing over and genocide (e.g., Cambodia, Iran, and Rwanda), but mostly I read about Nazi Germany (and the various countries they invaded) and slavery in the USA. Happy stuff—not.

But it allows me to put a human face on those who are crushed by those in power—I try to understand the lives of people who either never had power or people who had their power taken away. And these readings remind me to be concerned for the powerless and to know that they are people like me, who want the best for their families.

What happens in almost every instance of these awful tilts in power is that the group at the top works hard to dehumanize those they consider the Other. Frankly, it would seem as if the authors of the books were lacking in creativity and just writing the same story again and again. Sadly, the power differentials in the plots are not fictional but historic.

One of the biggest ways these powermongers dehumanize and destroy the Other is by separating families. Divide and conquer. Make it so they must make subhuman, no-win decisions if they do wish to stay together.

This has not been the way of the America of my birth. But especially with Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ May 7 declaration (that every person entering America illegally will be prosecuted and those who arrive with children, will have them taken from them), it is now.

Unconscionable.

Don’t give me that argument that they deserve everything they get because they are breaking the law. It’s false equivalency to equate those whose only crime is illegally seeking refuge with people who have committed additional crimes. If this attempt to access our borders is their first recorded trespass, shouldn’t the punishment be no more than to send them away from our borders?

However, if we are going to insist on prosecuting them, even ignoring that many of those are arriving seeking asylum from violence of many kinds, the additional tactic of separating children from their parents still remains an action similar to the tactics from the pages of evil regimes.

As of late, We the People are being told not to worry about people in high places who ignore ethical boundaries or break laws, maybe even commit high treason, but these people crossing the borders deserve the sentence of losing their children? For the crime of wanting to protect their children?

There has to be a better way to protect our borders without dehumanizing those whom we seek to keep out.

blackandwhiteberlinmonument

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Berlin

I fear for these children and parents. What we are doing to these people makes me especially afraid of who and what America is becoming—please tell me that we are not trying to write our own evil storyline.

Because this is the sort of plot that never should play out in real life in a country such as ours, which has long been a leader in improving human rights. If we act as if the rules of human decency only apply to how we treat our own children within our borders, we need to reconsider who is truly subhuman.

Culpable (guilty),” whisper the parents in the border courtrooms.

Culpable indeed. This should not be considered a political statement—this is a human rights statement.

What are you going to plead?

 

orangerose060518

(C) 2018 Trina Lambert

I like my job—and I miss having time to ponder. Don’t get me wrong—I do take time to stop and ponder for a few moments at work, and then I get back to what I’m supposed to do. So far, though, I haven’t figured out how to prioritize writing down those thoughts once I make it home. The few thoughts that have made it onto my blog these past two years remind me that I am approaching blogging just as I approached journaling when I was growing up. If you could read those old journal entries, you’d think I was always upset and angry—and that nothing good ever happened.

That’s because the only time I took to write was times when I was upset. Writing, after all, is a great way to process wild emotions and figure out what to do about what isn’t working. But it’s the little occasions, the boring ones, the ecstatic happenings, and the random thoughts that round out a life well lived.

And those never made it into writing.

When I took up a journaling habit about 20 years ago, I thought I’d learned my lesson. I had missed out on the breadth of my life by only recording my worst moments. I mean, who wants only their worst thoughts to be their legacy?

Not me! Yet here I am, doing it again.

This, despite the fact June has arrived, and with her all the roses that bloomed over a few short nights. Our rose seasons for the last several years have been severely shortened by voracious Japanese Beetles, so much so that these pre-Beetle days of roses and sunshine smell especially sweet to me.

Saturday dawned with blue skies, light breezes, and cool temperatures that would eventually rise to no more than 80. While running with my dog through the much fancier neighborhood next door to mine, I drank in the many hues of late spring flowers, the green-green grass of the golf course, the yellow-green reeds waving along the path, the fluorescent shades worn by the passing cyclists, even the yellow stripe in the center of the road. Colors were exploding on an extraordinary ordinary day.

The day stretched with activities such as taking dogs to vets, watching a team of 6th grade baseballers (and their little sisters) wash my car, and puttering around with my plants, before I finished it up by sharing tasty breakfast tacos and icy margaritas with my husband at a favorite local spot.

Not much of note happened. Perfect, right? Nothing like taking a day off from outrage to appreciate just what you’re fighting for—for you and for all the other ordinary people just wanting to live ordinary lives.

Taking time to smell the roses isn’t trivial—it’s essential.

And for me, maybe it’s just as important that I finally got around to recording some of the little moments that make up my life—and make it worth living.

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Eclipse. (c) 2017 Trina Lambert

Advent is all about waiting—but this year, despite the arrival of Thanksgiving and the busy shopping season it ushers in, we are still lingering in a form of calendar limbo. Check it out: Calendar A for the previous liturgical year ended on November 26 with Christ the King Sunday, but Calendar B for the coming liturgical year starts with Advent on December 3. So where are we now on November 29? Waiting for the waiting?

And, yet, it is so ironic that while we wait and prepare for the season of giving, our screens are filled with stories of people who go through life taking, in one form or another—just as in the days when the Chosen People were awaiting the arrival of the Messiah. They thought they were getting a Messiah to come to fight overarching power with power—but what they got was a baby, which is pretty much the opposite of power. Then after they waited for him to grow to become a man, he spent his time with them telling them to take on power—by loving and giving? Can you imagine?

Sometimes it feels as if we have no idea how to help those who are hurting or how to go about confronting the powerful forces that would keep taking from the world. But we need to remember that we do have an idea—it’s simply to love and give. That’s it—each of us has to figure out for ourselves how we’re going to go about doing that loving and giving—and bringing about light in a world full of darkness. That’s the kind of power we can claim without harming others—and we don’t even have to wait—not for Advent, not for Christmas, not for any day on any calendar.

Imagine the brilliance of our combined light.

Oh, Lord, help us to turn on that light—now.

runningshoemay2017 (2)

Trina Lambert (c) 2017

Wow, 70 degrees forecast for November. I just had to go running over my lunch hour the next day. While packing my backpack that night, I ticked off my list: running shoes, socks, skort, shirt (sleeveless!), jogging bra, visor, running belt, and inhaler. Packed lunch in the fridge that I could take to eat while working at my desk afterwards. Office clothes hanging in the bathroom. To bed too late—as always.

A “woman of a certain age,” I was not surprised when I woke later to go to the bathroom. However, what I didn’t expect was to almost fall when one of my knees didn’t want to bend as I hobbled down the hall. Strange—returned to bed with care, resolving to sleep with my leg lying straight out instead of curled in. That ought to fix that knee trouble, I thought.

Only it didn’t. Dawn arrived along with the tinny tune from my phone alarm, but my leg was decidedly unfixed. As I worked through my daily physical therapy stretching exercises, my right knee continued to resist my attempts to loosen it up.

And it hurt. A lot. Did not help that the shower is in a 1940s bathtub—making its side a little too tall for a knee that won’t bend—but I grimaced and brought it along with me anyway. By the end of the shower I had realized I was going to have to walk at lunch. Maybe I should grab a warmer shirt, but I could still go.

Hmm, bet I could have my husband massage it and check for any swelling or other problems. I stretched out on the bed to receive some help. After he finished his assessment, I bent back my leg and said, “Look it won’t go back any farther.” Then I dropped to the floor and started to walk—until my knee just screamed “no” at me. I joined in the screaming, with my husband staring at me for a few seconds before he ran to get me a chair.

And was it hot in there or what? As a roaring began in my ears, I wondered, “Can heart attacks start in the knee?” Then the heat left as quickly as it began. But I knew I wasn’t running—or walking much that day. In fact, I wasn’t even going to wear the skirt I’d put on—better to wear pants if I might end up on the floor.

My husband packed me into my car for my three-minute commute. When I arrived, my co-workers rolled me, sitting in a wheelie chair, to my office. With my leg propped on a fitness ball, I massaged arnica into the knee and gently stretched the muscles. Wasn’t feeling too bad anymore, so I popped up to go to the bathroom—and almost screamed again. Stuck halfway between the bathroom and my desk—and my pride—I debated what to do. But you can bet I didn’t ask for more help. Finally, I sidestepped, as I do on skis when I am unwilling to commit to the steepness of a slope, back to my desk, leaving a pattern in the carpet that looked as if one truck tire (by itself) had driven from the door to my chair.

I lowered myself and sighed. And then I reached for my cell phone.

Several hours later, carrying a CD with an X-ray of my (thankfully) not-very-arthritic knee, I stepped from the urgent care center into that balmy 70-degree day, skies still blue. It appeared I was going to live to run another day—just not that day or any day soon. A detour, but not the end of the road yet.

And in that moment, it was enough—or close enough to enough for this “woman of a certain age”—for now.

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